Love eating Bread? It Might Give You Cancer

“Let them eat cake” is the old-fashioned interpretation of the famous French phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, supposedly spoken by the great queen Marie Antoinette upon learning that the French peasants had no breads.
However, since “Brioche” was considered in France as a luxury bread which is enriched with butter and eggs, the quoted phrase reflected the Queen’s disregard for the commoners, or rather to say a complete dearth of understanding that the absence of basic food staples in France was more due to absolute poverty that has engulfed the nation rather than lack of supply.

Although nothing similar has of late happened in Kolkata, but Kolkata Municipal Corporation has ordered testing and sampling of bread samples all across the city after a study by CSE (Centre for Science and Environment) reportedly found certain unsafe chemicals in breads, buns, pizza bases and many other similar bakery items in the city.

The press on the alarm button happened when CSE released a report which stated that Indian bread producers use potassium iodate and potassium bromide for treating flour while making breads.

While potassium iodate could cause thyroid related problem, potassium bromide falls under 2B carcinogen category which can cause cancer. Hence the use of Potassium bromide has already been banned in several countries like Canada, Australia, Sri Lanka, Britain and the European nations, among others.

Although considered carcinogenic, these additives not only help to hold the bread dough together and make the breads rise and fluffy, they are also used as a bleaching agent which aids in giving the bread its white look.

Nevertheless, under perfect baking conditions and when used in right amount both these additives may get completely used up, but if they are added excessively or the bread is not baked long enough at a high temperature, these chemicals can sneak their way as residues to be found in the final products.

Hence, for all bread and pizza lovers their gastronomic delicacies have now become a part cancer causing foods list.

But this not the end of the road, although Potassium bromate is preferred by commercial bakers for its wide availability than other food additives for low-margin, high volume perishable food like breads after the ban of these agents, several bakeries in the city are also thinking about using Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) or Glucose oxidase for manufacturing their breads.

Other food improvers which fall beyond the purview of food that causes cancer includes ammonium chloride, amylases and ammonium persulphate which are outside this cancer causing list.

Much like today, when CSE reports are causing panic and slump in sale of breads and bakery products in the city, we are reminded of a similar situation when Maggi Noodles were also banned last year, after the CSE regulators found unacceptable levels of lead in the most popular instant noodle. However, the ban was later reversed after a court order.


  1. Rumita Saha says:

    Bread and butter is my favourite.But now i have to look for some other option i believe. The blog is amazing.